HS2 review to conclude next week and East Midlands phase to be scrapped, say sources

  • By Mark Gough, ITV News Central Business Correspondent

ITV News Central has been told that the review into the future of HS2 will give the Government its decision next Friday. It's understood that the section through the East Midlands will not now go ahead.

There are also doubts about the future of the whole project because costs have risen so high - currently above £100billion.

Two sources - one close to the review panel, and one close to the HS2 project - have confirmed that Douglas Oakervee, the man asked to carry out the review into HS2, plans to make his findings known next Friday (18 October).

I've learned that the stretch from Birmingham through to the East Midlands and then on to Leeds is definitely dead. That will not go ahead. I understand the stretch to Manchester is also being downgraded.

But I've also been told that the review panel has seen how much the costs have gone up by - currently £103billion - and are gravely concerned about the validity of the whole project.

The costs don't outweigh the economic benefit so there's simply no way the government will approve a scheme which costs more than it delivers.

HS2 is currently planned to have a main hub at Toton in Nottinghamshire Credit: ITV News Central

Two different predictions on stage one between London and Birmingham: One source has told me that route will go ahead - but at reduced speeds - so the track is cheaper to build.

But I've also been told there's a real possibility that Douglas Oakervee could recommend that the whole scheme is suspended. That would be the London to Birmingham stretch being suspended and it's all because the costs outweigh the economic benefit.

Of course the plan is for Douglas Oakervee to give his report to Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on 18 October. But this may not happen because the day before, Prime Minister Boris Johnson is in Brussels talking to the EU about the UK's withdrawal from the EU.

If that meeting goes badly, there's a suggestion that the Prime Minister will call an election for November. If that's the case then Douglas Oakervee won't publish the review panel findings until after an election because then of course there will be a different government to consider the HS2 question.

But tonight I sense things are moving very very fast over the decision on whether HS2 can go ahead or not - and the sense I'm getting is that the costs are making the project look less economically viable.

  • We put these details to the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street:

The Department for Transport says it won't provide a running commentary on the review's progress: